New Suspect Revealed in U Ko Ni Murder as Case Goes to Court

By Tin Htet Paing 17 March 2017

RANGOON — An individual not previously mentioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs for suspected involvement in the assassination of lawyer U Ko Ni made his first appearance at Rangoon’s Northern District Court as the case proceeded on Friday.

Four of the defendants appeared together in court for the first time, more than one month after the National League for Democracy (NLD) legal adviser’s murder. Among them were alleged gunman Kyi Lin, co-conspirators Aung Win Zaw and Zeya Phyo, and a newly revealed suspect—Aung Win Tun, accused of harboring one of the offenders.

Alleged co-conspirator Zeya Phyo, a former military intelligence officer, appeared at Rangoon’s Northern District Court on March 17. (Photo: Myo Min Soe/ The Irrawaddy)

Aung Win Tun reportedly drove Aung Win Zaw to Hpa-an, Karen State, after the killing was carried out in Rangoon on Jan. 29. However, neither the home affairs ministry nor the police mentioned his name in any connection to the case at the press conference on Feb. 25, nor did they reveal exactly when he was arrested. There was also no reference to Aung Win Tun from the President’s Office in its public updates on the case’s progress.

Authorities have so far named five suspects in the assassination of U Ko Ni. One alleged co-conspirator remains at large: former lieutenant colonel in the Burma Army Aung Win Khaing is charged under Article 302 of the penal code for the homicide, but has so far eluded police.

U Nay La, the lawyer for U Ko Ni’s family, said that Aung Win Tun is charged under Article 212 of Burma’s penal code for harboring a criminal.

According to the home affairs ministry, Kyi Lin, Aung Win Zaw and Zeya Phyo are also being charged under Article 302 of the penal code, as well as Article 19(d) and (f) of the country’s Arms Act.

Zeya Phyo, a former military intelligence officer, is additionally charged under Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law for the possession of restricted telecommunications equipment and Article 468 of the penal code for the forgery of national identity cards.

Kyi Lin was apprehended immediately after U Ko Ni was gunned down outside of Rangoon International Airport on the afternoon of Jan. 29. He also fatally shot an airport taxi driver, U Nay Win, while attempting to flee the scene.

The defendants’ next scheduled court date is March 24.

U Ko Ni was an expert on Burma’s military-drafted 2008 Constitution and had worked closely with the ruling NLD party as a legal adviser, looking into ways to amend or replace the charter, which is widely criticized as undemocratic.